Remote health solutions have proven their value in recent years, delivering critical services to those without easy access to local medical services. And in regions like Cornwall, with dispersed and ageing populations, these solutions have been a lifeline.
These are just some of the qualities that attract so many healthtech innovators to Cornwall. It’s a region that acts as a tremendous landing pad for the UK’s healthcare sector, giving companies the chance to test their products in a streamlined NHS environment.
One of these innovators is Vitacam – a healthtech company that offers a groundbreaking solution for measuring respiratory and heart rates using digital cameras and computer vision. Based in Finland, the company has scoped out Cornwall as the ideal next step for its solution.
Vitacam started from a simple idea: The team wanted to create a contactless solution that tackled the challenge of keeping sensors on the body, and offer a more effective way to measure respiratory and pulse rates.
Vitacam measures a patient’s respiratory rate by monitoring the movements of landmark points on their chest, and measures heart rate by monitoring tonal changes in their face, using cameras supported by AI to generate accurate readings. Upon its creation, the team saw use cases far beyond just contactless, in-hospital monitoring. As Founder and CEO Moyeen Ahmad explains,
“We saw the value Vitacam could offer remote patients and elderly patients in care homes – it makes it easy to track vital signs without visiting a practice.”
And with breathlessness featuring in around one-fifth of all emergency attendees, Vitacam has the chance to improve the accuracy of respiratory rate measurements and significantly reduce the time it takes to spot early warning signs of clinical deterioration. The team also has ambitions for the solution to extend beyond emergency use cases:
“Our goal is for Vitacam to be widely adopted as a monitoring tool that
helps people decide their own treatment needs – whether that’s staying at home, calling their GP, or visiting emergency services,” explains Moyeen.
Having secured European CE approvals, Vitacam is in the early stages of rollout in Finland, but Moyeen and his team are already planning the company’s expansion to the UK – and Cornwall will be an ideal starting point. Like Finland, it’ll give the clinical experts a chance to assess the technology. They will consider how Vitacam’s technology can help people in rural locations easily monitor their breathing and heart rates, and how it will enable medical staff to monitor people who are vulnerable.
“A lot of Cornwall’s features really resonate with us. It has an elderly demographic, its population is highly dispersed, and it has a streamlined healthcare system with a single NHS trust. The opportunities for our solution in the region are really exciting” notes Moyeen.
Despite Cornwall and Finland’s similarities, the expansion is already changing the company’s core goals due to the subtle differences between the regions. “The technical function of Vitacam will remain the same, but I think the clinical pathways will differ,” explains Moyeen. “It’s crucial we consider that what works in our home country might not work in the UK. And conversations with Cornwall Trade and Investment are helping us produce a tailored proposition for the market.”
Vitacam now has its presence established in Cornwall and the company is already engaging with professionals across the healthcare community to assess the value of its solution.
“We’ve had a great reception in Cornwall, and an introduction to the eHealth Productivity and Innovation in Cornwall (EPIC) team who will, enable us to work with researchers at The University of Plymouth, professionals in clinical settings, and people with extensive medical experience. This will be invaluable for us,” explains Moyeen.
“Early conversations have given us a great perspective on the region and helped us develop and validate our solution, which we are also developing into a user-friendly app.”
Vitacam’s technology is set up at the EPICentre (EPIC’s demonstrator space) in the Health and Wellbeing Innovation Centre in Treliske. Showcasing its solution in this space will enable professionals from across the region to test it and offer feedback. And over the next year, the company will be looking for talent across the region and beyond to join its permanent UK team. “Ultimately, it’s great being so close to our target population in Cornwall, having the support and talent we need on our doorstep with leading universities, and working in such a unique healthcare community,” says Moyeen.
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